Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Welcome to Normandy.

Where there are always raindrops on the flowers and leaves.

Where the skies are grey but many old stones are to be found, for instance in Bellême.

Such a pretty, nasty-tempered swan... you wouldn't think just looking at it...

A little further on, Nogent-Le Rotrou with its medieval castle (too bad their pics are so tiny). Well, at least the keep and some of the walls were medieval. The entrance towers are young, dating back to the 1500s.

An arrow slit. And here I was searching for some really scientific word for the little arrow window in the fortifications. It's actually called an arrow slit, it seems. Seems you'd have to be a pretty damn good shot to actually hit anything.

The keep.

The height of technology and hygiene at the time. A lavatory. People would go into a room at the top of the circled bit, there was a hole in the floor and they'd crouch there and do their business along the side of the wall, which might explain the state of the stone right there). Major ewwww. The middle ages might sound all romantic and shit, but all things considered I much prefer to live today.

Good thing she didn't use that particular lav. Ain't she cute though this Norman cow?

Now, let's leave Normandy (bye cow!) for Meaux, city of mustard (you have your Dijon, but you also have the old style Meaux mustard). I love these exposed timbers.

The cathedral is pretty much the only thing so see in Meaux though - St. Etienne. The side entrance

After Meaux, Fontainbleau and its palace. Nice enough place, but lordy is it overdone. Too bad they focus so much on how the royalty lived. I'd have loved to see the kitchens, servant quarters and have information on, for instance how many loaves of bread were baked each day, how many chickens were consumed, how many people fed, how many people were needed to keep the damn thing running...

This is the corridor the king had constructed for his own use to go from his private apartments to the public area of the palace. Eventually others than him were allowed to use it. Nice of him.

The library.

The empress Josephine's bedroom

The council chambers if I remember right.

Napoleon's bedroom. That's a teeny tiny bed he slept in.

Outside the palace.

The horseshoe staircase where Napoleon made his speech before leaving for exile.

And finally, the last lunch, the next day was back to Montreal, work, and thankfully, the World Cup.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

I wish to take this occasion...

To wish myself Happy Birthday from all of you.

Thank you.

Jazz (who is off having a happy birthday as this posts)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Dear STM*

I just recently saw a big sign at the 51 bus stop crowing that you had added 14% more buses on that line at peak hours. Wow. Impressive. Though as a user of the 51 bus (the last leg of the annoying journey home) I haven't noticed a bit of difference.

Nevertheless, I now know where all those mythical extra buses come from!!!

Obviously from the #90 bus line where I waited in the driving rain for over 20 minutes for those four buses which, according to the schedule posted right there at the bus stop, should have come pootling by every five minutes or so at rush hour.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So lets continue wandering along the Breton coast. Look! More pretty flowers.

A Breton beach somewhere - Morgat I believe...

Us again.

Only in France will they serve you espresso and macarons at McDonald's.

Me again, with the whole dark glasses and glamour thing going on.  Unfortunately no glass of wine to raise to your health - I had drunk it by then. Draining glasses of wine is a talent of mine. They're there then, poof, they're gone.

Some buildings in Morgat.

On another beach. There were all those weird sand worms all over the place. I've never seen anything like it... (Edit: actually I just call them sand worms cause they look all wormy. However, they are just little swirls/squiggles of sand. I have no idea how they're formed or what they are...Maybe I should call 'em sand spaghetti?)

An anonymous church in an anonymous village somewhere along the road...

The door on this place? It was about as tall as I was. Very very strange door.

The church spire in Roskoff. This is the city where the ferries arrive from England and Ireland.

Who knew artichokes didn't actually grow in supermarkets? I had never seen an artichoke as a... well plant...

More old stones in Roscoff for Violet Sky. I admit to cropping the first couple of pics (and the last one in order to get rid of a bunch of random tourists. They were all over the place.

And thus ends Brittany, next up a medieval castle in Normandy - Nogent Le Routrou....


Sunday, June 13, 2010


Well, in the interest of keeping Geewits happy (cause I have to keep Geewits happy otherwise she harasses me by email), here are some pictures from the trip.....

We arrived in France on Friday, spent the night at a friend's place near Paris, and Saturday morning... ok, more like Saturday noon, we were off:

See, ze French road, ze French sky, ze Quebecer toes and ze lovely GPS we had the presence of mind to buy before leaving. And of course ze French car... which was actually an Opel, so technically it was a German car...

Brittany is far far away from Paris it is. A good 6 hours away. The next person who tells me France is tiny and distances are really small will get slapped upside the head. Yep....

The view from N&R's deck. They live just outside a tiny Breton village called Hôpital-Camfrout, so called because, it seems there was a leper hospital there back in the 1100s or something. Though I can't help but think a hospital back in the 1100s is definitely a place I wouldn't want to be...

Lucky for us they live close to the ocean. The ocean!!! Getting a regular salt water fix is important to my sanity, so it just couldn't get any better.... The pretty boat parking lot in Camaret

Look!  A Breton fisherman! Totally could be a fisherman anywhere in the world. But he's Breton he is!

And his boat was in much better shape than these...

The church on the pier (or whatever it's called - I'm not much for the right terms, as you might have noticed when I pointed out that "pretty boat parking lot") where I guess fishermen stopped off before they set out...

And the inside of the church. Isn't that ceiling cool? I love that it looks like the bottom of a boat. I actually saw several churches like that...

The fortifications:

Course we had to wander around town, more old stones for you Violetsky.

And some really old stones. Dolmens left by the druids thousands of years ago. Funny, really how you expect these places to be all silent and spiritual, not standing 20 meters from a bunch of modern houses.

The next day, on to Concarneau, a great town with a wonderful medieval walled town.... Obviously, this isn't the walled town... Just me and Mr. Jazz on the pier in front of the city... Ain't it nice that Mr. Jazz is able to keep his eyes open for a photo? One of his many talents it is. A talent that obviously I am sorely lacking.

A church where drunken homeless sailors could take refuge. There were, apparently, large numbers of drunk sailors in Concarneau, which is a major seaport...

A Concarnese cat checking out the pigeons... you could pretty much see the lust in his eyes. If he'd had wings...

A tavern that's been there for hundreds of years. It used to be out in the outskirts of town - it's about 300 meters from the walled town: the Korrigan Tavern. Korrigans are, according to Breton folklore a sort of fairy or dwarf-like spirit. At dusk they appear beautiful, but in the daylight they are ugly, with wrinkled skin and red eyes, so they tend to hid out during the day. Unfortunately, as I have to earn a living, I cannot hide out during the day when my eyes are all red and I'm not looking my best. Amazing what candlelight can do for your looks. Maybe Korrigans were actually just middle aged ladies in the times before good makeup and lighting.

The entrance of the walled town.

Inside the walls...

And to finish off the day - a purty French flower....